Tim Grandinetti and Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar asked me to blog on all six nights of the 7th Annual Dr. Brownstone’s Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival. Each night, I will have a different special guest attend the event with me.
Night One: Winston-Salem All-Star Chefs
Night one of the Luv Luv Festival was a new tradition for the event. Tim Grandinetti and Spring House invited ten local Winston-Salem chefs (complete list of chefs and restaurants below) to make small barbecue plates for night one’s guests. My special guest for the evening was my mom, Barbara Callahan, retired speech therapist extraordinaire and current beach bum.
“For me, this is the best way to start the Luv Luv Festival this year,” said Grandinetti. “A collaboration with some of the best chefs in Winston. I don’t think we can top this! All of the chefs are friends. If Winston-Salem is going to be a dining destination, we have to do it together.”
The six-day event is an outdoor grill-fest. “When I moved from New York, barbecue was hot dogs and grilling outside. When I got here the barbecue was an epiphany. Tonight I have ten of my local chef friends, and the rest of the week I have chef friends coming from all over the country.”
Each night of the event features barbecue and a band. Night one’s band was the Thermatones, a soulful five member local band. As the band played, the guests were allowed to walk around from table to table to try out each local plate.
My mom and I started out the evening with some drinks. I had Brooklyn Lagers, while my mom tried out the bartender’s special signature Luv Luv cocktail, which mixed Chambord, Absolut Vanilla Rasberry, blueberries, lemonade, soda, and mint.
Kim McDonald, who grew up in Kernersville and currently lives in Belew’s Creek, was at the event with her husband for their fourth straight year. “Luv Luv is wonderful! You get to try new things that you normally wouldn’t try. There is a neat spin on food that gives you a new light on different recipes,” said McDonald.
The event features a People’s Choice Award voted on by the guests, and a grand prize winner selected by a group of local celebrities. Chef Alexandria Caesar from Vin205 Wine Bar was selected as the People’s Choice Award. Chef Chris Fulk from Quanta Basta came in third and Meridian’s Chef Mark Grohman came in second for the grand prize, while Chef Travis Myers from Willow Bistro won the overall grand prize in the friendly competition.
Grohman (Meridian) has been cooking at Luv Luv from the beginning of the festival. “I have been here since the first one. It is always fun, with a great crowd, great food, and definitely a great vibe,” said Grohman.
Local orthodontist, Sarah Shoaf from Salem Shines, and her husband have been attending the event since year one as guests. They plan to be at all six nights this year. “It is wonderful what different things chefs can do with the same ingredients,” said Shoaf.
Night two will feature a seated dinner cooked by Chef Will Pelly from St. Louis, Missouri. My guest for the evening will be President Lorraine Sterritt from Salem Academy and College.
Chefs from night one: Greg Rollins from Graylyn Conference Center, Shane Moore from Foothills Brewing, Travis Myers from Willow’s Bistro, Mark Grohman from Meridian, Chris Fulk from Quanto Basta, Jared Tipton from Spring House, John and Buddy Milner from Milner’s American Southern, Mark Little from Bib’s BBQ, Jeff Bacon from Providence Restaurant, and Alexandria Caesar from Vin205.
Night Two: Salem President Lorraine Sterritt and Chef Wil Pelly
Salem Academy & College President Lorraine Sterritt joined me on night two of Spring House’s Dr. Brownstone’s Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival to enjoy food made by Chef Wil Pelly from St. Louis, Missouri. The heavy rains didn’t dampen the mood, even though the wait staff was soaked from delivering the food from the “Belly of the Beast” to the tent filled with guests.
Pelly’s menu featured a Brazilian themed plate to go with the Summer Olympics, and a plate from Cuba. Night one was small plates from several different local chefs, while night two was a seated dinner.
President Sterritt and I had a lot of time to talk in between plates, all while we enjoyed the local band of the evening, Peace Train. I found out a lot about her homeland, Northern Ireland, that I didn’t know about previous to the dinner. I taught her some of my knowledge on Winston-Salem throughout the meal.
The first plate was a surprise as it was not on the menu and featured shrimp and meatballs. The second plate was chips and dip. The chips were made from lotus, taro, and plantain, while the dip was smoked black garlic chimichurri.
Local lawyer and appliance wizard, Wake Wagner, and his wife, Katie, sat with us at the same table. The couple came to one evening last year at the Luv Luv Festival, and couldn’t wait to get back this year. “Good food, a good time, even with the rain coming down,” said Wagner.
In between the second and third plate, we had a small cup of black bean soup. The third plate was a Cuban cigar. This was a wrap with smoked pork, ham, citrus, garlic, gruyere, quick pickle, Dijon, and phyllo. By this point of the evening, I was starting to get full. My plan for the whole week is to eat as little for lunch as possible so I have enough room for everything at Luv Luv. While we were waiting for the final plate, dessert, several attendees enjoyed shots off of the custom-made knife shot-board.
The dessert was called “Flan me over the Moon,” and was a vanilla custard with caramel and was topped with the candy, Pop Rocks, all on a popsicle stick. Just like night one, the second night was a success.
I saw several familiar faces from night one, and even more new faces there for their first night of the event. Here is to tonight (night three), when I will be joined by Aubrey Linville from Linville Team Partners.
I am starting to get stuffed after three nights at Dr. Brownstone’s Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival. Last night the rains held off, and I was accompanied by Aubrey Linville from Linville Team Partners. He just got back from a trip around California. Linville and his wife Holli plan to take both of their kids (and eventual grandkids) on a summer trip to all fifty states in fifty years. They are six states in after California. We sat in the “Belly of the Beast,” which meant more great food including three additional plates.
Chef Kurtis Jantz and Chef Fabian Di Paolo from the Trump International Hotel in Miami, Florida sent out plate after plate of delicious foods. Both chefs have attended the Luv Luv Festival for the past five years.
In addition to the awesome food, we also got tastings of some great Mother Earth Brewing beers, including their limited Silent Night. The “Belly of the Beast” table included food bloggers, Nikki Miller Ka (from the great Winston-Salem) and Nichole Livengood (Greenville, SC). Each plate came with a Mother Earth beer sampler.
After an appetizer portion from the Spring House staff, we got our first plate from Jantz and Di Paolo, which included: bottom of the bowl popcorn, wood smoked ‘Cheetohs’ (yes those Cheetohs) ranch dip, blue and plantain chips, charred hot peppers, and black scallion and roasted corn succotash. One of the extra plates had a fried green tomato, with Texas Pete ‘Cha sauce, and shrimp and crab balls. Another special plate featured jerky and another was a Mexican specialty.
Plate two had blackened shrimp and scallop escabeche, coconut milk marmalade, ash crushed nuts and a blazed onion petal and radish salad. Plate three was probably my favorite of the evening and included barbecued pork ‘skirt steak’ arepa with leek charcoal, broiled cauliflower and corn husk vinagrette, and farmers queso caco banyulus gastrique. Don’t ask me what the last one is, because I have no idea, except for that it was good.
Dessert was a chicory coffee custard, which had chocolate cream, marshmallow fluff, browned milk with toast crumbs, tapioca avocado and basil, and caramelized white chocolate sorbet. Brenda Morie played the music for the evening.
Linville said, “I had a blast tonight! It is a really cool event. I plan to definitely come back next year.”
Mother Earth Brewing is located in Kinston, NC (website). My favorite of all their great choices was their Weeping Willow Wit, which is a Belgian Style beer. I definitely plan to pickup a six-pack next time I am at the grocery store.
I have been doing jumping jacks all day to try to make room for tonight, when I will have my most amazing guest of the weekend, my wife.
Day 5: Written by Lawren Desai and her guest Jigar Desai
Turning over a successful blog to two failed bloggers has all the makings of a disaster, but hopefully we can shake off the rust enough to do justice to the event. Night 5 of Luv Luv was headed by Tim Recher, Executive Chef at the Army Navy Country Club in Washington DC. He’s also close to completing his Certified Master Chef designation, which came through in the dishes as you’ll see later.
Jigar started off the cocktail hour with the local feature – an extremely refreshing combination of Sutler’s Gin, cucumber, lime and thyme which slightly helped cool him off after being forced to walk over from our downtown digs.
I didn’t get a photo of my delectable Pina Colada because it was consumed too quickly.
The pre-first course was a deviled egg, meatball, and shrimp/veggie combo – an enjoyable mini potluck of sorts. We were lucky to sit at a very lively table with great conversation – really the perfect dinner party table. We laughed a lot, talked about podcasts and did our fair share of pretending we had degrees from Food Network.
The real first course was possibly my favorite – a Sweet Corn Vichyssoise – with huge chunks of lobster. It was a chilled soup so almost as refreshing as the Rose I chose to accompany it.
An impressive fish course was next and for Jigar it was followed by a singular knife shot board. Just watch the video and you’ll understand. I’m glad Jigar can cross that off his bucket list now.
I’m a pretty adventurous eater, and had my reservations about the next dish when I saw it on the menu. There are two foods I avoid – olives and beets. Ugh…just gagged in my mouth as I typed them. I’m just going to post a before and after photo of course three. It was very pretty to look at and involved the more colorful of the two forbidden foods.
If you look close enough you will find one small difference, hint, it’s the size of a curried cashew.
Finally we were to the course I’d been eyeing all night – the Zabuton Wagyu Beef Steak – which according to Google is “so named because of the flap’s shape, similar to that of the flat Japanese sitting cushion.”
It was consumed about as quickly as my earlier pina colada. And note to Jay, you’ll see my notebook in the corner of the photo. I did take this assignment very seriously.
Lastly, dessert – soft chocolate and raspberries. Thought I’d time lapse video its consumption…don’t blink.
Luv Luv is always a lovely experience and this year was no exception. We such a fun table that no one wanted to leave and I really hope that we’ll be lucky enough to have a similar experience next year. Thanks for taking the night off Jay and letting us go in your place!
Final Night: Guest, Terrilyn Hutcheon, Chef Eric Martinez, and Chef Grady Spears
For the final night of Dr. Brownstone’s Sweet Summer Luv Luv Festival, food blogger TeriLyn Hutcheon joined me to enjoy one more evening of delicious food at Spring House. Hutcheon runs A Foodie Stays Fit, and she also has an awesome Winston-Salem Instagram page, @bestofwinston. The Chefs for the finale were Eric Martinez from Orlando, FL and Grady Spears from Fort Worth, TX.
Hutcheon moved to Winston from Utah over eight years ago. She works at Wells Fargo and lives in Downtown Winston.We sat at a table that included Rebecca Byer from Olio, a glassblowing shop at West End Mill Works, Emily Alphin, and the Cernak’s from Out of Our Mind Animation Studios on Fourth Street.
The food continued to be excellent, but after five nights of Luv Luv, I honestly feel that I know what it is like for a bear right before they go into hibernation. This has definitely been the most food I have ever eaten in one week.
The final night, we started out with several appetizers, including sausage corn dogs with grits. The music of the evening was a solo guitar player and singer, Josh, who played everything from Bob Marley to several Dave Matthews Band (seven) songs.
The first plate was a crab salad, which was “light and airy” and came with compressed watermelon with lavender. The second plate included heirloom potatoes, fresh corn, white beans, with cobia fish.
Hutcheon heard from a friend that the Winston-Salem showcase cocktail was terrific and ordered one. The drink included Sutler’s Gin, Jack Rudy Tonic, cucumber, thyme, and lime. I stuck with some Brooklyn Lager and I tried the house iced tea that was infused with mint.
The next plate had duck on top of crepes and finished with soy sauce and Korean chili sauce.The final plate was served family style and included beef tenderloin. For desert, we had ice cream cookies with maple-glazed ice cream, in between shortbread cookies with pineapple. The evening concluded with a birthday song for a guest.
The Luv Luv Festival is an event like no other in Winston-Salem that is here to stay. I suggest going next year if you haven’t been yet, but be prepared to eat a lot of great food!